NASA postponed the launch of its rocket to the new moon this morning due to a temperature problem with one of the four liquid-fuel engines. If that problem can be fixed, the next possible launch dates for the space agency’s Artemis 1 mission are September 2 and 5.
NASA’s new moon program is about to break all kinds of records for human spaceflight. Named for the Greek goddess Artemis, the twin sister of Apollo, this initiative will put the first woman and first person of color on the moon. If all goes according to schedule, in 2025, these astronauts will become the first humans to step onto lunar regolith, or dusty lunar soil, since Apollo 17’s Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt walked there. in December 1972.
furthermore, the artemis program will establish the first long-term human presence on the moon, launching a space station into orbit and building a base camp on the lunar surface. These steps will lay the groundwork for another first in the future: sending astronauts to Mars.
But before all that happens, the space agency has to test its equipment with the Artemis 1 flight, which will break its own records. As NASA’s massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket sits on the launch pad Ahead of this historic mission, here’s what you need to know about the show making headlines around the world.
Where is Artemis 1 going?
The 42-day Artemis 1 mission will test the Orion spacecraft, a capsule that will orbit the moon and one day carry human crews there. Once in the atmosphere, Orion will start in Earth’s orbit, then fly through space driven by the Interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS), a 45 foot long cylindrical system with one motor. As Orion flies toward the moon, a service module provided by the European Space Agency correct course as needed. The spacecraft will complete up to one and a half revolutions in lunar orbit, where it will set a record for the longest distance ever traveled by a spacecraft that can carry a crew. Then, it will fire its engines at just the right time to be propelled towards Earth, with the help of the moon’s gravity.
On October 10, the Orion spacecraft will make a roaring return to our atmosphere, moving at 6.8 miles per second, the Fastest re-entry of any pod built for humans. The spacecraft and its heat shield will have to withstand temperatures of 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, a crucial part of this test mission, as NASA cannot artificially create these conditions on the ground, it reports. gizmodoIt’s George Dvorsky. If she survives, Orion will sink into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego, in full view of a US Navy ship that will retrieve the spacecraft.
What’s so special about the mission’s rocket, called the Space Launch System?
The SLS is the most powerful rocket ever built, period. is found in 32 stories high and weighs nearly 6 million pounds. To build it, NASA hired several companies—Northrop Grumman worked on the boosters, Aerojet Rocketdyne built the engines, and Boeing built the orange core stage of the rocket. The project costs something $23.8 billiona totally that generated some criticism for being over budget.
When the SLS launches, it will be powered by about 8.8 million pounds of thrust, a figure that dwarfs the Saturn V rocket that launched the Apollo missions, which had 7.5 million pounds of thrust. gizmodo reports. But when SpaceX Starshipcurrently in development, takes off, will earn the title of the most powerful rocket for its incredible 17 million pounds of thrust, intended to carry people to deep space destinations. Still, “SLS is the only rocket that can send Orion, astronauts and cargo directly to the Moon in a single mission,” according to POT.
How else will this flight contribute to science?
Although no humans will fly on Artemis 1, three mannequins will travel to deep space. Their mission: test whether conditions inside the Orion spacecraft are safe for future astronaut occupants. At the head of the capsule will be Commander Moonikin Campos, a test dummy sporting the Orion Crew Survival System spacesuit, according to well-informed personby Paola Rosa Aquino. The sensors will measure the acceleration, vibration and radiation Moonikin is exposed to, giving NASA data on how its human crew members might fare.
The other two mannequins, called Zohar and Helga, will measure how space radiation affects a woman’s body. The dummies are made of plastic sheets that simulate soft tissues, bones and lungs. Each will have 5,600 sensors that will record information about the effect of radiation on the lungs, stomach, uterus and bone marrow. Zohar will wear a protective vest, but Helga will not.
As NASA prepares to send the first woman to the moon, this research is crucial. “Women in general are at higher risk of developing cancer as they have organs that are more sensitive to radiation, such as breast tissue and ovaries,” Ramona Gaza, science team leader at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said in a statement. news summary.
So Artemis 1 wants to take ten cubesats, or shoebox-sized satellites that often contain research materials. ICPS, after giving Orion its initial push through space, will separate from the spacecraft and deploy these satellites to three different locations between Earth and the Moon. One of these cube sets will use a sun sail to propel it to a near-Earth asteroid, which it will photograph. Other contains yeast to measure how space radiation affects living cells. The other cubesats will study the lunar ice with a spectrometer, take images of the moon and the spacecraft, test the airbags in a crash landing on the moon, and test other research questions.
Why has this mission been so delayed?
Artemis 1 had originally been planned for a 2016 launch, according to the orlando sentinelby Richard Tribou. But a number of factors complicated and delayed this goal, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. said at a press conference last year. Manufacturing delays for both SLS and Orion, the Covid-19 pandemic, and difficulty obtaining sufficient funding from Congress made this date unfeasible.
This year, NASA ran into trouble with the SLS rocket’s wet dress rehearsals, or practice runs, ahead of Monday’s launch. in April, the rocket missed three dress rehearsal wet attempts. Various problems, including a faulty vent valve and a hydrogen leak, prevented NASA from completing each test, as FLIGHT MagazineJeremy Kariuki reported. A fourth attempt in June it finally worked: NASA loaded the rocket’s fuel tanks and counted down from the ten minutes before launch, down to T-29 seconds. Despite another hydrogen leak that delayed part of the test, NASA considered the test a success.
Which are the next steps?
Artemis 1 will be followed by Artemis 2 and Artemis 3, missions that will culminate in astronauts once again walking on the moon. After this initial test flight, mugwort 2 will bring a human crew in a moon flyby, entering the orbit of the moon and returning in eight to ten days. The mission is currently scheduled to launch in 2024. If all goes according to plan, Artemis 3 will take place in 2025. This mission will send a crew of astronauts to the surface of the moon for the first time in more than 50 years.
Last week, NASA announced 13 potential lunar landing sites for Artemis 3 astronauts to explore, writes space.comby Meghan Bartels. They are all around the lunar south pole, an area that scientists are prioritizing for research. In the permanently shaded and cold environment of the polar region, scientists believe that frozen water can be found below the surface. As for which of these sites will be the destination, that will depend on the launch date.
The Artemis program is just the beginning of NASA’s “Moon to Mars” initiative: The agency wants to make the moon a technical stopover that will support astronauts on longer space missions. Artemis will set the moon Gatean outpost in orbit around the moon that is going to be assembled in space and help future exploration. NASA also plans to establish a lunar base camp where astronauts can stay for long-term missions and test exploration methods that could be used on Mars.
By building on the achievements of Artemis, astronauts could walk on the Red Planet in 20 years.
“Everything we’re doing on the lunar surface, we’re doing it to explore for science,” says Cathy Koerner, NASA deputy associate administrator. WITH CABLEby Ramin Skibba. “We’re not just going for ‘flags and footprints,’ as some people refer to it. [Apollo]but also to test all the systems that we will eventually need to reduce the risks of a human mission to Mars.”